Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has described the lack of urgency around budgets for Drug Task Forces as another symptom of the malaise that surrounds the government’s Drug and Alcohol Strategy.
The Sinn Féin TD said that a recent response he received from the Minister suggested that the 2018 budgets for these Task Forces had not been signed off on and would not be announced until January 2018.
Deputy Crowe said:
“The government’s current drug and alcohol strategy is operating against a background of drug feuds and murders, open drug dealing in many areas, intimidation, increasing drug-related deaths, and even children being used as runners.
“There is also an increasing number of drug related suicides. All of this there is placing a significant burden and additional pressure on the health and mental health services.
“Drug Task Forces are supposedly on the front line co-ordinating a response to this growing countrywide problem. However it is now late December and there is still no agreement on the 2018 budgets for these important Task Forces.
“This lack of urgency is another symptom of the malaise that surrounds the Drug and Alcohol Strategy.
“When I raised this issue with the Minister for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, she said that the budgets had not been signed off on and would not be announced until sometime in January 2018.”
Deputy Crowe didn’t hold back as he called out the government for what he perceives as a lack of understanding of Irelands growing drug problem:
“This is absolutely bonkers and making a farce of pre planning and proper governance.
“This budget delay is directly impacting on staff who should legally be put on protective notice as there is uncertainty around funding their wages, and on community based drug projects who rely on funding.
“It is making it impossible for anyone in Drug Task Forces areas to prepare and plan for the coming year.
“Clearly this government and those responsible for these funding delays do not understand the scale or the enormity of the challenges that face communities on a daily basis.
“Their lack of empathy, their lack of supports, and their cuts in funding, all point to an ignorance and ineptitude when it relates to Irelands growing drug problem.”